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Friday, February 25, 2011

FIFA to decide 2014 World Cup slots

FIFA's Executive Committee will decide how many places each confederation will be allocated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup at its meeting to be held in Zurich on 2 and 3 March.

CONCACAF are already pushing for an increase in their quota - from 3.5 to 4.

I already wrote about allocating slots right in July 2010.

Allocating World Cup slots: Is there a better way?

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. It's interesting to look at U-17 and U-20 World Cup allocations, where 24 teams compete. Excluding the host slot, all confederations get four slots except Oceania (which gets one slot) and Europe (which gets the remaining six slots).

    If these tournaments were to increase to 32 teams, and there was a desire to keep the all confederations (except Oceania and Europe) with the same number of teams, then Asia, Africa, S. America, and N. America would get either one or two additional slots (let's say one) and Europe would get the remaining four or zero slots (let's say four). This would leave Europe with 10 total slots. This would be one way to put a "permanent" senior World Cup allocation in place (without all those playoffs as well).

    However, it would remove all the slot allocation drama, as well as the playoff drama, and essentially gives New Zealand a free pass while (arguably) some of the better European teams wouldn't make it.

    While there has been tons and tons of web postings on this topic, I personally like Edgar's post on the better way to allocate (the PlanetWorldCup idea) as it creates a performance-based competition for the World Cup slots.

    I guess that the interest level in fiddling with U-17 and U-20 World Cups is not high enough, so they just give all confederations (except Oceania and Europe) they same number of slots.

  2. @ Dorian

    I have no objections with UEFA's paltry allocation in the U20 WC, because European countries and clubs tend not release players as there is no obligation to do so. My England have been sending out pathetic D teams out to these for years that have been handled easily every single time.

    U17 though is a different matter, as usually only a very few such players are in their club's first team, so they happily send them out to aid their development.

    Oceania should not not get an automatic spot though. New Zealand suck at these tournaments, and Tahiti made it to one and got absolutely destroyed.

    The big subject for me is why does CONMEBOL only get 2 spots at the Olympics, while Asia and Africa both get 3.5? If there is a good reason like what I said about UEFA U20 World Cup, or if they have just flat out sucked at the Olympics, so be it. But I don't know why only 2. Argentina won the last two Olympics. They finished 3rd in qualifying this time, so are not going.

  3. I do not know why there is even a discussion regarding the allocation of spots for the World Cup (U-17 or otherwise).

    Firstly, of course the OFC should have direct entry to the U-17 and U-20 World Cup's. How is anybody supposed to determine the strength of each countries youth squad? The U-17 & U-20tournaments are for the development of the players in each confederation.

    Secondly, the current allocation of world cup spots allow for all of the competitive teams from each confederation to qualify. It also allows for some developing nations that might not be as competitive to qualify as well. THIS ALLOWS THE AFC, CAF, CONCACAF & OFC TO DEVELOPE THEIR CONFEDERATIONS.

    What would be the alternative to this? Average European teams playing out matches we all would have seen for the Euro Cup.

  4. @ vanLassen

    Playoffs, that's how. New Zealand get destroyed at these tournaments. They don't deserve to be there. Some actual real promising talent is missing out because these garbage teams show up just because of what part of the World they live in. Oceania is a complete joke, it doesn't deserve any help, they don't even care about footbal in that part of the World, it takes a big back seat to Rugby. So why should football care about them? They deserve a shot, not a free handout.

    I'm not that hung up on the youth World Cups and their placing allocations, since the quality of youth teams can vary wildly year on year.

    For the senior World Cup, if the best 32 teams in the World one time happened to be exclusively from UEFA and CONMEBOL, I would want to see those 32 teams at the World Cup. Nations should not get favoured or screwed just because of what part of the World they happen to be in. I bet a team like Cyprus or Venezuela would put up more of a fight than some of the teams that show up at the World Cup.

    Imagine if the Premier League kicked out a load of teams because suddenly they wanted 5 teams from each point of the compass in England to comprise the league.

  5. @ vanLassen

    Oh, and your argument about not getting to see these teams is stupid. You say you can just see the Euro teams at the Euro Cup. Well you can just see the African teams at the ACON. And that's every 2 years, not 4. Same for CONCACAF. Gold Cup. Every 2 years, not 4. Asia, Asian Cup. Oceania? Well, who cares about Oceania. In my mind New Zealand vindicated the 0.5 spot this year, nothing more. Otherwise, I would have said they should have had 0.25 spots.

    And I actually do watch those tournaments.

  6. I actually think FIFA does a good job allocating those slots. They manage to show a very interesting tournament every four years, with teams from every part of the globe; and its qualifying stage is fun and far from meaningless.

    I would prefer that they split Asia in two (East and West), and make OFC to join the Eastern part to form the Pacific Football Confederation. The West part could keep the Asian Football Confederation. But, since this completelly utopic, I would keep the way it is.

    However, if someone asks me me how I would decide the slots for 2014, my answer would be:

    UEFA: 13.5
    AFC: 5.5
    Conmebol: 4.5 + 1
    Concacaf: 3.5
    AFC/OFC: 4

    Mediterranean (UEFA-CAF)
    Americas (Conmebol-Concacaf)

    AFC/OFC: The final round would have 12 teams (10 AFC, 2 OFC) divided in two groups of 6 teams (5 AFC, 1 OFC) each. They would play round robin, home and away, withing the groups and the top two from each one would qualify.

  7. Having said that, I would be surprised to see something different from this:

    UEFA: 13
    AFC: 5
    Conmebol: 4 + 1
    Concacaf: 4
    AFC: 4.5
    OFC: 0.5

  8. P.S.: I believe that when FIFA say they have only one doubt, it's the half from Conmebol.

    After the disappointing results from Africa's teams in the last WC, I think they are out; UEFA wouldn't get another half spot for a WC overseas; and OFC don't deserve it, even if New Zealand did great in South Africa. So, these spots must be sure: UEFA (13)
    AFC (5), and OFC (0.5).

    They have only three real options: give it to Concacaf (as I think they will), keep it in Conmebol (as I think they should), or give it to AFC (the playoff would be Concacaf-OFC).

    Let see.

  9. @ Sancho

    Alright, I'll throw in here. It should be noted most people look at the World Cup 2010 and then change things from there. Not me. I had my own idea for World Cup 2010 of what the placings should be, and I'm making changes from that based on the performance of Confederations in 2010.

    Before the World Cup, this is what I would have said...

    UEFA - 15.5
    Africa - 5
    CONMEBOL - 4.5
    CONCACAF - 3.5
    Asia - 3.25 (Asia easily the worst Confed year on year. Saudi Arabia always an absolute joke.)
    Oceania - 0.25 (New Zealand I would have said need to beat at least two "real" teams to get in.)


    Asia vs Oceania. Winner vs CONCACAF. Winner to World Cup.


    After the World Cup

    UEFA - 14 (Pathetic showing by UEFA's lesser teams. 1.5 spots stripped away accordingly.)
    CONMEBOL - 6 (CONMEBOL was supreme. Big rewards for their performance, taking UEFA's losses.)
    Asia - 4.25 (Asia did pretty well. A full spot is the reward, taken from Africa.)
    Africa - 4 (Pathetic. First African World Cup, and 5/6 can't even get out of the group. Africa stank up it's own World Cup and is punished accordingly.)
    CONCACAF - 3.25 (CONCACACF loses 0.25 to Oceania.)
    Oceania - 0.5 (New Zealand vindicated Oceania's 0.5 spot.)


    Asia vs CONCACAF. Winner vs. Oceania. Winner to World Cup.

    Oh, I could just see this being the real allocation:

    UEFA - 12
    CONMEBOL - 5.5
    Africa - 5
    Asia - 5
    CONCACAF - 4
    Oceania - 0.5

    I hope UEFA fights it's corner well at these talks. All the talk is always about the minor confederations constantly shoving for more places every time, and often getting their way. Could even be:

    UEFA - 12
    Africa - 6
    Asia - 5
    CONMEBOL - 4.5
    CONCACAF - 4
    Oceania - 0.5

  10. Note: I don't believe in giving extra spots to host continents. That 6 places for CONMEBOL is not because Brazil is hosting, I believe CONMEBOL deserves 6 full spots period after the continent's trememendous showing in 2010.

  11. I hope people understand that the "AFC" with more spots is actually CAF.

  12. Lorric,

    Your last one, if it happens, would show how drunk people in FIFA is. It would be completely stupid.

  13. @ Sancho

    It confused me at first with it being at the top (What?! 5.5 places for ASIA?!!) but I figured it out.

    I am afraid for UEFA. UEFA has done nothing to fight for more spots when it's teams have consistently proved they deserve more than 13 World Cup after World Cup. Now, for the first time, UEFA's teams (except the big 3 of course) have a poor showing, I worry others will be targetting spots at UEFA's expense.

    I could see Africa keeping it's 6th spot, just as Asia kept BOTH it's extra spots when it hosted which was an absolute joke.

  14. Saw a rumor over on BigSoccer that CONCACAF will get 4 slots while Africa will drop to 4.5 slots! Meanwhile CONMEBOL will get 4.5 slots plus 1 for the host, and Asia will stay at 4.5 slots.

    What I find interesting about these numbers is the prevalence of the number "4.5". It makes me wonder if FIFA has longer term plans to move to having all confederations (except Europe and OFC) getting 4.5 slots, which would look something like this:

    Host: 1

    Africa: 4.5
    Asia: 4.5
    N. America: 4.5
    S. America: 4.5

    Oceania: 0.5
    Europe (the rest): 12.5

    Playoffs would all be North-South to keep time zones close:

    N. America vs S. America
    Europe vs Africa
    Asia vs Oceania

    Or, if FIFA didn't care about time zones, it could seed the six playoff teams based on FIFA rankings.

    So, outside of Europe and Oceania, each confederation would have at least 4 teams (just like the U-20 and U-17 World Cups), but each confederation would have a chance to take one more team to the World Cup should they be able to win their playoff.

    Just like the Champions League thrives on geographic diversity by limiting the EPL to only four teams, the World Cup would continue to have the top teams from each geographical area.


  15. @ Dorian

    I too saw this somewhere else yesterday, but there seems to be nothing in the news last time i checked, so for now, I'm not putting any stock in these "sources."

    This is where I saw it if anyone's interested:

    I wonder what a 4.5 for Africa format would look like. It would destroy their whole system of dual qualifying.

    It would be a joke if FIFA does that. Speaking of playoffs, I'm sure Oceania was supposed to be on a rotation, and everyone seems to have forgotten. Oceania should have been playing off against CONCACAF this time, as it faced Asia last time and CONMEBOL the time before. If the system changes as the rumour says, Oceania should face Africa.

    I reallyhope they don't just go for something neat and tidy like the youth World Cups over something with actual merit. But this is FIFA, a corrupt organisation.

    Champions League is different though. There is a set number of places for positions in the rankings. Places and seedings are earned on merit, and it's a very good system they have. And this can be seen in effect with Italy being stripped of one of it's European places. Portugal are looking good to take a place from Russia too.

    Oh, also your system doesn't work. There are 5 half places in it.

  16. Dorian,

    That doesn't look so crazy. Would balance it out geographically. The playoffs would be fun. Taking October's rankings (FIFA likes october), it would be:

    Paraguay-Costa Rica
    Saudi Arabia-New Zealand

  17. If Africa only gets 4.5 slots, it will be interesting to see how their qualification format is impacted.

    Right now, with five group winners qualifying, there don't seem to be great options on deciding which four would qualify for 2014 and which one would be the playoff team. Is it the worst first-place team that becomes the wildcard? Do the two worst first-place teams have a playoff to decide the inter-confederation playoff?

    Of course, Africa could change to a final group stage of four groups of six teams (as I wrote over on BigSoccer):

    The four group winners would qualify, and the 0.5 slot could either be (a) best second-place team, (b) winner of a home-and-away round between two best second-place teams, or (c) winner of two home-and-away rounds involving all four second-place teams (my preference).

    We should know soon!


  18. I thought it would be interesting to compare last allocation to the actual number of people (population) in each zone.

    AFC had 1 slot for 975 million people!
    CONCACAF had 1 slot for 176 million people.
    CAF had 1 slot for 167 million people.
    CONMEBOL had 1 slot for 77 million people.
    UEFA had 1 slot for 56 million people.
    OFC had 1 slot for 13 million people.

    If anything the number of people and associations in Asia should justify getting a full slot instead a playoff. CONCACAF in my opinion do not deserve it by any means!

  19. There are only 3 competive teams in AFC, 2 in CONCACAF, and 1 in OFC, while UEFA's allocation is very cut.And in fact ideally CONMEBOL and CONCACAF must organize a single competition, the same with AFC and OFC, and 16 places decided intercontinentally, but thats ideally, actually FIFA would give that 0.5 spot to concacaf (here everybody asks a question if CONCACAF is so strong then why they can't gain that spot intercontinentally?) because it's all about money, and OFC will never unify with AFC, because lots of kiwis lose jobs. Also if an association doesn't ask for an additional spot, theyll never get it.

  20. I just read these are the slots:

    UEFA: 13
    CAF: 5
    Conmebol: 4,5 + 1
    AFC: 4,5
    Concacaf: 3,5
    OFC: 0,5

    The playoffs would be decided by DRAW (!) between "OFC 1st", "AFC 5th", "Conmebol 5th" and "Concacaf 4th".

  21. P.S.: I don't know if it would be a free draw or they will seed the two best ranked teams.

  22. @Sancho

    It will be a draw on July 30th, 2011 to determine the confederation pairings.

  23. This is Lorric. How do I get my name back with this new system?

    The idea of a draw is a good one. Especially if they stick with it as allocations change in future World Cups. However, with the slots unchanged, I think they should have paired CONCACAF with Oceania and CONMEBOL with Asia. Because the continents played the other two combinations in the last two World Cups. They should have made that happen, then implemented the draw in future World Cups. So I hope that's what comes out of the draw.

  24. That's the result I would like to see also.

  25. @Lorric

    Simply choose Name/URL instead of Anonymous.

  26. brazil, argentina, italy, germany, and any other team that won a world cup should get an automatic spot in the world cup.

  27. @ Anonymous

    Ha ha ha ha, how ridiculous! I could accept the defending Champion maybe but not a lifetime guarantee. As much as that would benefit me (England) it is ridiculous. You have to earn your way in.